decided: September 16, 1982.
EVA OLIVER, PETITIONER
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT
Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of Eva Oliver, No. 197020.
Roseann B. Joseph, for petitioner.
Charles Hasson, Assistant Counsel, with him Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Judges Rogers, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 99]
Claimant Eva Oliver appeals a decision by the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review which, affirming the referee's decision, denied her benefits on the basis of willful misconduct.*fn1 We affirm.
[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 100]
Because of her husband's illness, the claimant, a retail clerk, sought and received from her employer a leave of absence from September 29 to December 31, 1980, which, at her request, was extended until February 2, 1981.*fn2 The claimant, however, did not return to work when her leave of absence expired and did not resume contact with her employer until approximately March 14, 1981.*fn3 She was notified of her discharge on that day.
In her defense, the claimant asserts that (1) because the company had no formal rules or regulations governing notification, she was unaware of any duty to notify her employer of the date she planned to return to work and (2) that, even if she failed to notify
[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 101]
her employer within a reasonable period of time of the reasons for her absence, she was justified because the depression stemming from her husband's death constituted "good cause."*fn4
Given our limited scope of review, we find that there is sufficient evidence in the record to negate the claimant's assertion that she had no knowledge of the employer's notification policies; she knew enough to contact the company when seeking an extension of her authorized leave, and by her own admission, notified her supervisor in late February that she was ready to resume work.
This court has held that willful misconduct exists where there is evidence of absenteeism coupled with a violation of a requirement that absences be reported.*fn5
Moreover, with respect to satisfying her burden as to justification for her six weeks of silence, the claimant offered no evidence to show that her depression was so debilitating that it rendered her incapable of contacting her supervisors from February 2, 1981 to March 15, 1981.*fn6
[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 102]
The claimant also contends that the referee did not afford her an adequate opportunity to defend her actions, thereby denying her due process of law, because, although she was informed of her right to counsel and of her right to present and cross-examine witnesses, she was not asked if she understood those rights. Under the rule which we laid down in Katz v. Page 102} Unemployment Compensation Board of Review*fn7 interpreting the regulations*fn8 which govern the conduct of referees in unemployment compensation hearings, the referee discharged his obligation by informing the claimant of her right to counsel and of her right to offer witnesses and to cross-examine adverse witnesses. Moreover, the record does not indicate that the referee failed to meet his regulatory mandate "compatible with the impartial discharge of . . . [his] official duties."*fn9
Thus the board did not abuse its discretion when it refused to receive additional evidence concerning claimant's unexcused absences. The referee heard evidence on these matters and provided the claimant with ample opportunity to present additional evidence. See Keiper v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 61 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 601, 434 A.2d 874 (1981).
Now, September 16, 1982, the order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, Decision No. B-197020, denying benefits to Eva Oliver, is hereby affirmed.